MONTREAL — The fraud and corruption trial of Sami Bebawi, a former executive with engineering giant SNC-Lavalin, has begun hearing from its first witness today at the Montreal courthouse.

Bebawi, 73, faces eight charges including fraud, corruption, laundering proceeds of crime, possession of stolen goods and bribery of foreign officials. He pleaded not guilty to all charges Thursday morning.

The first person to take the stand was the Crown’s main witness, former SNC-Lavalin executive Riadh Ben Aissa, who worked directly with Bebawi at the company.

The 14 jurors were chosen earlier in the week and the trial is presided by Superior Court Justice Guy Cournoyer.

Cournoyer told jurors “Mr. Bebawi is presumed innocent.” The judge said it was up to prosecutors to prove the accusations against Bebawi beyond any reasonable doubt.

Bebawi was charged in 2014, following an RCMP investigation that also led to charges against the company itself.

Prosecutor Anne-Marie Manoukian told jurors the trial “is a case of international fraud and corruption.”

She says Bebawi profited from a kickback scheme related to lucrative contracts from the government of Libya.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 31, 2019.

The Canadian Press

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